Ōtaki's F6F-3 Hellcat

Started by Eric Berg · 18 ≡ · ↻ 3 days ago
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    Eric Berg said 2 weeks ago:

    I had just started this kit and was using Jim's Squadron book, "F6F Hellcat In Action' for reference when I read about his passing. Then Louis Gardner proposed this group build and here I am. Thanks Louis @lgardner!

    For it's age (1977 tooling), Otaki's 1980 reboxing is quite good and easy to construct. I was going to build this Hellcat right out of the box as is with the addition of UltraCast resin wheels only and no other changes. But wouldn't you know, I decided to backdate it to an early F6F-3 and, as usual, fell right down into the rabbit hole.

    Here's my progress so far:

    The kit cockpit is almost imaginary but with some Eduard PE belts and AirScale instrument decals I managed to upgrade the front office a bit.

    Other than a one piece, too thick, closed early style canopy along with side rear window panes moulded in place, that’s it for the Otaki clear sprue. Wingtip nav lights are moulded in place on grey styrene. Actual Hellcat nav lights consisted of a bulb and a clear plexiglass cover. I removed these from the wingtips and replaced them with my own. I used small lengths of clear sprue cut to fit, a drilled hole where the “light bulb” goes filled with color of choice and glued this piece back into position. Followed by a few minutes of sanding and polishing to get the contour of the clear “plexiglas” just right.

    Otaki moulded the proper exhaust vent openings but no stacks which creates a noticeable void, so I made my own using drilled out styrene rods trimmed and glued together.

    I also drilled out the three ID lights on the bottom on the bottom of the fuselage and will lens them over with Kristal Clear later.

    Props and wheels.

    Onwards and forwards!

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    Spiros Pendedekas said 2 weeks ago:

    Amazing entry and ditto progress, my friend @eb801! It is really touching that you were using Jim's book as a reference when you heard the sad news.

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    McLents said 1 week, 6 days ago:

    Been awhile since I’ve thought much about Hellcats. The only one I’ve ever built was years ago (and I mean years) and it was the Otaki kit. And IIRC, a lot of folks thingk Otaki got that Hellcat cowling signature grin better than more recent kits. You’re moving along well. Be fun to follow your escapades. Good luck Eric @eb801.

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    George R Blair Jr said 1 week, 6 days ago:

    Your are really moving on this one, Eric (@eb801). Great choice of subject, and great choice of kit. I have been dragging a bunch of the old Otaki kits around for years, and have always thought they made into really nice models. Looking forward to your choice of paint and decals.

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    Tom Cleaver said 1 week, 6 days ago:

    Do be sure to get the Squadron F6f-3 vacuform canopy (the True Details cockpit would have been good too). Easily available on eBay from Decal Supply Corps.

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    Tom Bebout said 1 week, 6 days ago:

    Nice work Eric, and of course we modelers begin doing OOB but then we start thinking, "if I just tweak a little here a add a little there." It's no longer OOB.

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    John Healy said 1 week, 6 days ago:

    Nice choice, Eric. I like that kit too.

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    Eric Berg said 1 week, 6 days ago:

    Thanks guys @fiveten, @j-healy, @tom-bebout, @gblair and @mclents for the encouragements.

    Guess what Tom @tcinla? I found a box of US Navy Falcon Canopies in a long forgotten bottom drawer with a F6F-3 still there, so I will use that once I pry the Otaki one off and and clean up. Thanks for the idea. As Tom Bebout accurately said, "If I just tweak a little more here, add a little there"...

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    John vd Biggelaar said 1 week, 6 days ago:

    Great choice and ditto start, Eric @eb801
    All your added details do look perfect, and to me those bulbs do look exactly right.

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    Greg Kittinger said 1 week, 6 days ago:

    Well - you definitely got the jump on most of us! Coming along nicely - nice enhancements!

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    Louis Gardner said 1 week, 2 days ago:

    Eric Berg (@eb801)
    Nice work ! Dude you are rocking on this one... I have never built up an Otaki kit, other than the Ki-44 in 1/48 scale as a kid. I think it was re boxed by Arii later on. I do have one Otaki kit in the stash though. It's a WW2 Japanese biplane trainer. I think it was called a "Willow" or possibly a "Spruce". I'm not completely sure, but I do know it is molded in Orange plastic.

    It would be a fitting target for your 'Cat. 😉

    The nearby restoration shop American Aero Services had a F6F underway for several years. I took a ton of pictures along the way. This one shown above is one of the ones I personally took. It's a little too late for you on this one, but if you need any more detail pictures, please don't hesitate to reach out.

    Thanks for joining the group, and even more so for being as far along as you are with this one. I especially like the landing lights and exhaust pipes.

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    Eric Berg said 4 days, 22 hours ago:

    Nice photo of that F6F-3N under restoration, Louis @lgardner. Great website American Aero Services has well worth checking out.


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    Eric Berg said 4 days, 22 hours ago:

    TC - @tcinla: I decided not to use the Falcon vac canopy I have even though it's far superior to the Otaki's clumsy one. I've already removed Otaki canopy twice after it was glued in place and I don't want to risk mucking it up again since I used CA glue this last time. Plus I can live with it the way it is.

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    Eric Berg said 4 days, 21 hours ago:

    Paint Shop Time

    Before I delve into the paint, here's some more tales from the rabbit hole: After some additional research, I can confirm this Otaki F6F-3 tooling is based on a very early model, the first production run of 272. These all had a landing light under the left wing that was deleted with the next production run, replaced by a leading edge light on the left wing just outboard of the guns. I could have scratched built this but I scratched my head instead.

    Otaki tooled this kit with a vertical antenna mast but it should be slanted forward as all the first 909 early Hellcats produced were. The vertical mast was installed on all models thereafter. Easy fix. To Otaki's credit they correctly moulded the tiny circular blue lights on the upper wings, a smidge forward of the ailerons. I drilled these out and will fill with Kristal Klear for the lenses later:

    Now it's paint time. First I sprayed the canopy frame interior green. Then the entire plane with Tamiya Neutral Grey as sort of a primer. This was followed by my own mix of Insignia White.

    Here's where I am now. Next time I post you will see the finished paint job with Intermediate Blue topped with Non-Spectactular Sea Blue.

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    gary sausmikat said 4 days, 20 hours ago:

    Looking great, Eric. Your moving right along on this one.